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Experts Urge Measures to Avoid Serious Deterioration of Covid in Hungary

Júlia Tar 2021.10.27.

As the fourth wave is ongoing in Hungary, there might be some worrying numbers when it comes to those infected, as well as deaths due to the virus. A high number of people are vaccinated in Hungary but this alone may not be enough, according to more than 20 health experts. However, the Orbán administration does not plan to reintroduce restrictions and emphasizes personal responsibility and freedom of choice.

Although the number of people hospitalized due to corona continues to rise, there are fewer patients than in the same period last year, János Szlávik, the head of the Infectology Department of the South Pest Central Hospital, said. He added that the delta variant of the coronavirus is much more infectious than previous variants, so it is difficult to predict how the epidemic will develop. It is assumed that the fourth wave could peak in November or December.

“Something must definitely be done,” Szlávik said on the question of whether new precautionary measures will be needed in Hungary. If the pandemic gets worse, something has to be done, as has been done in many other countries in Europe, he added.

A reduction of 93.5 percent can be achieved by masks alone, without keeping your distance – which is the most realistic way to get around on a bus,”

virologist Gábor Kemenesi said, “for respiratory tract infections, we can talk about ‘large droplet’ and ‘aerosol’ discharge. Distancing is mainly used to prevent the former. But the mask catches both.” He cited an article from the scientific journal Science Advances.

More than 20 health experts have summarized what needs to be done to tackle the fourth wave of the epidemic, and what the public, public facilities, and the government should be looking out for.

They point out that the current national vaccination coverage is not high enough to be considered herd immunity and that “the re-emerging epidemic will result in thousands of deaths in the coming months, mainly among the unvaccinated.” They believe that no protective measures should be omitted until 80% of the country’s population is vaccinated.

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Their proposed measures include:

  • making the wearing of face masks as widespread as possible
  • recommending a third vaccination, providing vaccination points for people living in difficult circumstances
  • postponing mass events
  • making it compulsory to show an immunity card (which proves that a person has received the vaccine) or a PCR test at indoor events
  • establishing free testing points
  • establishing an effective official quarantine system
  • requiring fully immunized persons who have had close contact with Covid-19 to undergo post-contact testing on the fifth or seventh day after contact and strict adherence to individual protection regimes until a negative test result is obtained
  • publishing anonymous epidemiological data regularly in a way that allows further processing
  • enabling the press to provide a realistic picture of the epidemic situation.
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In contrast, in a recent radio interview, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that while wearing a mask is worth considering, “we should not be under the illusion that a mask will protect us.” The PM added that “only vaccination helps! Of course, you can protect yourself by closing yourself in, with a mask, etc., but that will not protect you. This is a virus, the epidemiologists tell me, against which only vaccination can help.” Therefore, the government does not plan to make any restrictions.

“We do not want to limit anyone, especially those who have been vaccinated. Wearing a mask is still compulsory in areas of high risk: in health facilities (GPs, specialist clinics, hospitals) and social institutions (for unvaccinated people when visiting), and in everyday life masks are not compulsory but not prohibited, so if someone wants to wear one, they can do so,” the Coronavirus Press Center announced.

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Featured photo illustration by Zoltán Balogh/MTI